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Last Corporate Day to a Month of 19k

In June 2013 I quit my corporate job to go full-time freelance with my web design business. And by September I was hitting 5k months.

At the time, it was a lot. To you that may be a lot, or a little. But for me it represented something HUGE:

It was more than I made in a month at my previous corporate job.

To me, that’s all that mattered. Reaching that is when I truly felt like I could make this freelancing thing work. My biggest fear of leaving my job was not being able to replace that income. So when I went beyond it, my mind was opened to the infinite possibilities of income when not attached to a pay check from someone else.

When it came to launching The Freelance To Freedom Project, I wrote a little ebook. One that you’ve likely read (if you haven’t, you can grab it here), called “Last Corporate Day to a Month of 5k” with some advice about what I did to make that happen.

Well, six months after I released that freebie, I made $19,441 in one month alone. And then I did it again in November.

The Importance of Diversifying Your Income

Most of us freelancers do some variation of one-on-one work.

That’s where our passion lies and it’s the easiest way (in my opinion) to start a freelance business.

The only problem: there are only so many hours in the day.

So if you’ve maxed out your one-to-one client time, feel like you’ve raised your prices as high as you feel comfortable with now, but still want to increase your income…you’ve got to diversify your income streams.

Different Income Streams

There are soooo many different ways you can bring in more money without relying on one-to-one services. (and it’s not just about “passive income”)

Different income streams you could consider:

  • Write and sell an ebook that solves a problem for your audience
  • Sign up to be an affiliate for courses or software you use and actively market those on your website and social channels
  • Write an actual book or create some kind of workbook/planner specific to your audience’s needs
  • Create a retainer service for past clients for small tasks that you could outsource to someone else to actually do
  • Create an online course or training program
  • Create a paid mastermind/support group that you lead
  • Run a local workshop
  • Allow advertising on your website

I decided to create an online training course called Stress Less & Impress, and later The LEAP Guide and it’s what helped me hit 19k months.

So what are the actual steps to making $19k months (or more) possible for you?

Before I even started thinking about what kind of new income stream I wanted to create for myself, I made sure to take a few important steps to make sure I was ready.

#1: Build up enough 1-to-1 client business so you have enough steady income and repeat or referral business

I’m surrounded by a lot of freelancers and solo-preneurs and something I see happen often is people jumping right into diversifying their income from the start.

Why this wasn’t the best plan for me:

  • Instead of doing one thing well and mastering it, I’d end up doing a lot of things just so-so.
  • I’d be putting all my time and effort into something that had no guarantee of results (while taking time away from my one-on-one services). This in turn would put financial pressure and uncertainty in the mix, delaying how quickly I would reach the overall income I wanted.
  • At the start I didn’t have a big enough audience or understanding of my audience’s true needs. (More on this below)

Instead, I made sure I was bringing in consistent enough income from my one-on-one services, through my marketing & referrals to be confident financially in creating something new.

In fact, I wouldn’t have made $19k that month on the new income stream alone. I had one-on-one clients that I could count on if the launch of SL&I didn’t go so well.

#2 Build up an audience

No matter what kind of new income stream I wanted to have, there had to an audience.

Whether you want to create a course or just sell ad space on your website, you need people that know, like and trust you to hit buy or traffic to your website to click on those ads.

My first year of business, both of my audiences (web design business and this FTF blog) were quite small.

So before creating something new, I put a big focus on growing my newsletter list and social media channels.

Not only did this give me potential customers, but it helped me…

#3 Understand the true needs of your audience

The key to a successful new income stream is understanding the biggest problems and pain points your customers have and solving that for them.

You can’t make this up.

You can’t assume.

You’ve got to be surrounded by them, interact with them and ask them.

That’s why #2 and #3 go hand-in-hand.

You’ve got to have that audience to be able to understand their problems.

And once you do, start your research before choosing the type of income stream.

Maybe they don’t like group programs. Maybe they hate websites that have ads on them. Maybe they never read ebooks. Or maybe they love it all.

Same goes with their biggest pain points and what they’re willing to pay to get help with.

You’ll never know until you ask.

(I talk more about the research stage of creating a product in one of the ebooks in the free Freelancers Toolkit. Get it here.)

#4 Create, launch & sell!

Once you have the above steps in place, it’s just a matter of deciding on what kind of income stream based on what your audience would respond to, what problems they have that you can solve and getting into creation mode!

I went into detail about creating, launching and selling in the blog series, Behind The Scenes of Creating an Ecourse, as well as my ebook “4 Steps To Creating Your First or Next Passive Income Stream” as part of the free Freelancer’s ToolkitSo start with steps 1-3 above, then dig into those extra resources.


These steps aren’t rules. They are just what worked for me and got me above $19k for two months in 2014.

You don’t need 10,000 Facebook fans and 20,000 email subscribers to successfully launch a new income stream — I had less than 1000 subscribers when I did my first $19k month.

But it sure as hell helped to have taken these steps first rather than jumping into it from the start. And if I had to do it again, I would certainly do the same. Because an extra $40k for the year, was certainly worth the extra work and patience.


Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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✓ From Last Corporate Day to a Month of 5k
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{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Happy Anniversary, Leah! Thanks for providing so much value to your audience. And thanks for being so transparent about your experiences.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Thank you Jennifer- I’m glad you like the transparency!

  • Happy anniversary, Leah! Thanks for sharing this information and your experiences.

  • Wow! Congratulations Leah! I really needed to hear this and back off of making a product until I grown and get to know my audience. Once again, so helpful 🙂 Thank you and Happy Anniversary!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis

      Glad it came at the right time for you. Like I said though, there are no rules. It is possible to put something out there from the start (I’m all about starting before you’re ready) and have it be a success. But the more you grow and the more you know your audience’s actual needs, the better the chance to knock it outta the park 🙂

  • Just the list of possible income streams makes this post great. But the rest of it is also reeeally inspiring. Trying to create other products while serving regular clients is so hard from a time-management perspective. You make it all feel do-able.

  • This is great, Leah! Thank you for sharing your roadmap to awesome income. I love that you encourage people to build up a decent one-on-one base FIRST. And with that in mind, I’m bookmarking this for the day my base is large enough. Thanks so much!

  • This is incredibly helpful and something I’ve struggled with BIG TIME! I loved reading your story.

    A year ago, I tried creating a hyper local website for my area. The goal was to driver readership, diversify my income to where advertisers were paying to be on the site but I had more flexibility, and advertise my writing abilities in a unique way. It worked… somewhat, but I never pounded the pavement to sell the advertising space (yuck) so it never came to fruition. I am in the process of either hiring someone to help with the sales or selling the site to a local newspaper that doesn’t have a website. Either way, I want to get back to the audience I’m better fit to serve and focus on diversifying my income that way. This post was super helpful toward that goal. Thanks as always, Leah!

  • This is so classy, Leah. I love how you describe the balance between diversifying your income but also taking it in stride and building piece-by-precious-piece! Thanks for this.

  • This is so inspiring to hear all the progress you’ve made in just a year! I’m about 2 months in, and really look up to what you’ve done! I’m just going to have to think up an e-course or book topic to go with!

  • I love this!

    I think I tried to diversify too quickly because I wasn’t super clear on my audience and their needs. So I’m scaling back, getting clear, and then planning on diversifying in a new way that’s more relevant. You’re an inspiration!

  • Happy anniversary – and congrats on your two 19k’s! I tried an e-course, but not much success (even though I did have a lot of interest in it, just people didn’t want to pay). Still trying to come up with other ideas of passive income…

  • Such a brilliant and straightforward message, reflecting your personal brilliance and straightforwardness. Love it. Love you. Kudos.

  • First… congrats!!! Second… so inspiring!! Thank you! 🙂

  • I also left my corporate job in June 2013! Wish I could say I was at 19k/month now though. 😉

  • I was making checkmarks in my head all the way through this post – sound, solid advice. I especially like how you talk about multiple streams of income. It can sound haphazard with our hands in different industries trying this and that, but diversifying how we offer our services is a great way of looking at it. Good stuff!
    Oh and Happy Two Year Anniversary!

  • Great job, Leah, on leading the way with your inspiration and optimism. It took me many more years as a freelancer to start to diversify, and I know many others are looking for this kind of guidance – thank you for sharing!

  • Congrats on your anniversary, Leah! The community you’ve built is solid and your trips truly helpful. I’m a member of a few groups and don’t find as much value in others consistently. Kudos to you! Best, Linda

  • This is such a helpful article!! I’m looking to start freelancing on the side and maybe more later on, so it’s great to hear about what steps others took to get to such great success. Especially when it’s as well written and explained as this!

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